The former governor could be forgiven for assuming the presidency was in his grasp — his own polling was way off the mark
Mitt Romney famously did not write a concession speech on Election Night. There seemed little point, so supremely confident was he that he'd emerge the victor — based on late-in-the-game internal polling. Then came the actual results which, by all accounts, came as a complete surprise to his campaign, even though they matched up with an aggregate of public polls. Team Romney had badly miscalculated the electorate's composition, and underestimated President Obama's ability to turn out his supporters. The New Republic's Noam Scheiber got his hands on some of the campaign's deeply flawed final in-house polling, which showed Romney with leads in key swing states:
The first thing you notice is that New Hampshire and Colorado are pretty far off the mark. In New Hampshire, the final internal polling average has Romney up 3.5 points, whereas he lost by 5.6. In Colorado, the final internal polling average has Romney up 2.5 points; he lost by 5.4. "I'm not sure what the answer is," [chief pollster Neil] Newhouse told me, explaining that his polls were a lot more accurate in most of the other swing states. "The only ones we had that really seemed to be off were Colorado — a state that even Obama’s people tweeted they thought it was going to be one of their closest states — and the New Hampshire numbers, which seemed to bounce a lot during the campaign."
Newhouse also had Romney and Obama tied in Iowa, which Obama went on to win by nearly six points. Furthermore, the Romney campaign reportedly thought it would win Virginia and Florida, two states for which the internal polls remain unknown. Finally, Newhouse says he thought the campaign was within two points of Obama in Ohio, and "generally believed it had momentum in the final few days of the race," says Scheiber. Put together, the campaign thought it had the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.
Needless to say, none of this was true, especially in Ohio. "Two points is a pretty deep hole to climb out of in such a short time period," says Maggie Burns at Politico, which means, in addition to flawed polling, the Romney campaign may have been indulging in some magical thinking.
Other stories from this topic:
- Campaign diary: Uncovered: Mitt Romney's presidential transition website
- Forecast: What should Mitt Romney do next?
- The List: Second-guessing Mitt Romney: 7 things he should have done differently